New Alaska Route: Mount Deborah is Bad to the Bone
Mount Deborah is a 3,761-metre peak in Alaska that has attracted climbers to its icy walls for decades.
The first ascent was up the South Ridge in 1954 by Fred Beckey, Henry Meybohm, Heinrich Harrer. The most recent new route was climbed by Will Sim and Jon Griffith up the norhtwest face to northwest ridge and is called Bad to the Bone.
“I found the line through Google earth mainly,” said Sim. “I didn’t have a photo of the face before we went. It’s hard to land near that aspect of the mountain because there’s a lot of moraine on the surface of the glacier. We got a heli from Fairbanks, but I’m sure you could do it other ways.”
It was their third trip to Alaska, but first time to the eastern part where Mount Deborah and Mount Hayes stand tall.
“The rock is terrible on that face, makes the Rockies look like Ceuse,” said Sim. “We stuck to ice as much as we could. I don’t think it would ever be a classic, as no one goes to that area, plus it’s scary. The descent was a fairly long affair, over a day-and-a-half down the West Face. Then, a mile-long ridge traverse followed by 10 or so raps back to the glacier and our snow hole.
“Our basecamp was flattened on the first night in a big storm, so we had a spicy base camp life. Bad to the bone is the name, 2,000 metres schrund to summit.”
Visit Alpine Exposures: Jon Griffith’s Facebook page
The first attempt on the mountain was in 1953 via the South Ridge by Al Paige, Howard Bowman, Brooke Marston, Doctor McFarland. In 1964, David Roberts and Don Jensen attempted the East Ridge. Roberts later wrote a book about the attempt called, Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative.
Then, in 1975, Pat Condran, Mark Hottman, Brian Okonek, Dave Pettigrew, Pat Stuart and Toby Wheeler spent 36 days to reach the summit for its second ascent on May 8. The big north face was climbed in 1977 by Dakers Gowans and Charles Macquarrie, they also reached the summit on May 8.